Review: “Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” by Kim Gruenenfelder

Kim Gruenenfelder’s “Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” is a humorous and heartwarming sequel to “There’s Cake in My Future,” continuing the misadventures and life journeys of a group of friends navigating the ups and downs of love, career, and friendship. Published in 2012, this novel blends witty dialogue, relatable characters, and a touch of romance to create a delightful and engaging read.

Plot Overview

“Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” reunites readers with Nicole, Mel, and Seema, three friends whose lives were first intertwined in “There’s Cake in My Future.” This time around, each woman faces her own set of challenges and opportunities, prompting them to re-evaluate their priorities and aspirations.

  • Nicole: After surviving the chaos of wedding planning and adjusting to married life, Nicole now grapples with the complexities of balancing her career ambitions with her role as a wife. Her journey is one of self-discovery as she learns to assert her professional goals without compromising her personal happiness.
  • Mel: Mel’s life takes an unexpected turn when she realizes that her career in journalism isn’t as fulfilling as she once thought. Her search for a new path leads her to unexpected places and people, making her question what truly makes her happy and fulfilled.
  • Seema: Seema faces the dual pressures of a demanding career and the expectations of her traditional Indian family. Her storyline explores cultural identity, familial duty, and the search for love on her own terms.

As the three friends navigate these personal challenges, their bond is tested and strengthened in surprising ways. The novel weaves their individual stories together with humor, heart, and a touch of serendipity, leading to a satisfying and uplifting conclusion.

Themes Explored

Friendship and Support: At its core, “Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” is a celebration of friendship. The novel highlights the importance of having a supportive network of friends who can provide both a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the pants when needed. The dynamic between Nicole, Mel, and Seema underscores the idea that true friends are there through thick and thin, offering unconditional support and honest advice.

Self-Discovery and Empowerment: Each character’s journey is marked by moments of self-discovery and empowerment. Gruenenfelder delves into the personal struggles of balancing career aspirations, romantic relationships, and family expectations. The novel encourages readers to pursue their own paths and make choices that align with their true selves, rather than conforming to external pressures.

Cultural Identity and Family Expectations: Seema’s storyline adds depth to the novel by exploring themes of cultural identity and family expectations. Her struggle to honor her heritage while asserting her independence resonates with readers who have faced similar challenges. Gruenenfelder addresses these issues with sensitivity and nuance, providing a relatable portrayal of the complexities of cultural identity.

Humor and Resilience: Humor is a key element in the novel, providing a lighthearted counterbalance to the more serious themes. Gruenenfelder’s witty writing style and humorous situations keep the narrative engaging and enjoyable. The characters’ resilience in the face of life’s challenges is both inspiring and entertaining, demonstrating the power of laughter and positivity.


Nicole: Nicole’s journey is one of balancing ambition with personal happiness. As she navigates the demands of her career and marriage, she learns to assert her needs and make choices that align with her values. Her character growth is marked by moments of vulnerability and strength, making her a relatable and inspiring protagonist.

Mel: Mel’s storyline centers on career dissatisfaction and the search for fulfillment. Her decision to leave her job and explore new opportunities reflects a common struggle faced by many individuals in today’s fast-paced world. Mel’s character is relatable and endearing, as she learns to take risks and pursue her passions.

Seema: Seema’s journey of cultural identity and family expectations adds depth and complexity to the novel. Her struggle to balance her career ambitions with her family’s traditional values is portrayed with sensitivity and authenticity. Seema’s character growth is marked by moments of self-assertion and courage, making her an inspiring figure for readers navigating similar challenges.

Writing Style and Atmosphere

Kim Gruenenfelder’s writing style is characterized by its witty dialogue, engaging prose, and relatable characters. Her ability to blend humor with heartfelt moments creates a narrative that is both entertaining and emotionally resonant. The novel’s lighthearted tone is balanced by moments of introspection and depth, making it a well-rounded and satisfying read.

The atmosphere of the novel is contemporary and vibrant, capturing the essence of modern life with its challenges and joys. Gruenenfelder’s descriptions of settings, from bustling cityscapes to cozy homes, add a sense of realism and immersion to the story. The novel’s pacing is well-executed, with each character’s storyline unfolding in a way that keeps readers engaged and invested.

Reception and Legacy

“Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” was well-received by readers and critics alike, praised for its humor, relatable characters, and insightful exploration of contemporary issues. Fans of “There’s Cake in My Future” appreciated the continuation of the characters’ stories, while new readers found the novel to be an enjoyable and engaging standalone read.

The novel’s themes of friendship, self-discovery, and cultural identity resonated with a wide audience, making it a popular choice for book clubs and discussions. Gruenenfelder’s ability to address serious issues with humor and sensitivity has cemented her reputation as a talented and versatile author.


In “Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink,” Kim Gruenenfelder delivers a heartwarming and humorous novel that celebrates the power of friendship, self-discovery, and resilience. Through the journeys of Nicole, Mel, and Seema, readers are invited to reflect on their own lives and the choices that shape their paths. Gruenenfelder’s witty writing and engaging storytelling make this novel a delightful and inspiring read.

Whether you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, romance, or stories of personal growth, “Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink” offers a rich and rewarding reading experience. With its relatable characters, insightful themes, and infectious humor, the novel is sure to leave a lasting impression and inspire readers to embrace life’s challenges with courage and a sense of humor.

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